Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Greetings!

Dear Family and Friends, 28 December 2008

I hope that your holiday celebrations have been joyous and blessed!

We celebrated numerous times this year. We started with a huge party for all of the sponsored children and the orphanage children. Then, we invited our primary school teachers to a party introducing them to hamburgers and French fries and games like ‘Hot Potato’. We celebrated with our local church where the children presented skits and special musical numbers. We celebrated twice with the children at the orphanage eating riz gras with them on Christmas Eve and on Christmas morning treating them to pancakes with peanut butter and jelly or syrup.

Finally here in Ouaga, Liz and I met with a group of friends and ate turkey with all of the traditional trimmings. Lots of different ways to celebrate the birth of our Lord and to rejoice in all that He has done for us!
Playing 'Hot Potato' with our teachers.

Hand Pump for our Well.

We have reached another phase in our well project and that is the installation of a hand pump.
Our well is 76 meters deep and the water is totally pure. In the near future we will build a water tower and install pipes from one end of the courtyard to the other. But, even now we are enjoying the relief from the high waters bills in this blessing from the Lord.

I have been sick for about a month but am now beginning to feel better. I contracted some kind of bacterial stomach infection and/or amoebas and in killing off all of the bad stuff the antibiotics also killed off the ‘good bacteria’ which helps us in properly digesting food. For several weeks I have struggled greatly with diarrhea and could not get it stopped.

This week-end I saw a doctor here in Ouaga and with the help of some meds and the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apples, and toast) I am very quickly recovering. The diet is boring but I am trying to be faithful to it in order to recover my health.
Thank you so much for all of the love and prayers and tangible support that you have sent to us. Liz and I are thriving. All of the children in the orphanage, the sponsorship program, and the school are thriving. All of our workers are thriving. The clinic project is growing and our nurses are doing a wonderful job. Our widows are all precious and although struggling with old age, they also are thriving.

It is because of your partnership with us in the place of prayer and in the giving of financial support that I can joyfully say ‘Look at what the Lord has done’! Thank you so much! May the Lord bless you 100-fold in this new year of 2009 for all that you have done for the children of Burkina Faso.

Love and blessings!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

New Names Written in Heaven--

Dear Family and Friends, 14 December, 2008

New Names Written in Heaven—
We are rejoicing with the angels in heaven for Therese and Ascension who invited Jesus into their hearts this week. Therese is 8 years old and Ascension is 18 years old.

We have been praying for Ascension for several years now and in the Lord’s perfect way and perfect timing, He softened Ascension’s heart and gave him the boldness to stand before all of his brothers and sisters here at the orphanage and ask Jesus to come into his heart.
Therese was in the same meeting when Ascension made his commitment to the Lord but she kept silent. Then, just a few days later when the invitation was given at our sponsorship party, Therese raised her hand and said that she wanted to ask Jesus to come and live in her heart.

Ascension Therese

Sponsorship Christmas Party
Saturday, December 13th was the Sponsorship Christmas party. We held it on the orphanage property and there were 150 children here for a day of feasting and fun. The day with a soccer match and then moved into a time of singing ‘Jesus songs’. One of our local pastors, Pastor Eli, told the story of Christmas and every child’s face and attention was on Pastor Eli. When an invitation was given to ask Jesus into their hearts, 15 children responded and went up front. They repeated a simple prayer and then all of us prayed for them. The names of these children have been given to the local pastor nearest to the home of each child so that each child will be encouraged to grow in their new faith.
Other events of the day were drama and singing presentations made by each group, games like ‘fishpond’, ‘pin the tail on the donkey’, and sack races, and lunch of spaghetti, fried fish, and watermelon. Everyone left with cookies and candy that they received from winning games or as a parting gift at the gate.
Please pray for all of these children who made a commitment to Christ this week. Most of them will return to Muslim or Animistic homes and may not be able to attend church or Sunday school. But, they are all permitted to attend our weekly meetings held at the church near their home and each week, they are hearing about Jesus and of His great love for each one of them.

Sponsorship Distributions—
Because of anticipated civil unrest. . . which did not occur. . . school in all of Burkina was cancelled this past week. So, we took advantage of this time for the children to be out of school to hold 3 distributions and our Christmas party for the sponsored children.

We combined the 2 groups in Sector 6 into one distribution at the Sayo church, then continued to the Sector 7 church in Goodin, and finished with the Sector 1 and 4 groups at the Central Church here in Yako. Everyone came and the children performed what they had been preparing for the Christmas party. As usual, everyone left happy and content.
This Saturday, the 20th will be the distribution day for all of the remaining children.

Deborah returns to her family.
Little Deborah has been with us at the orphanage since she was just 5 days old. Her mother was not well mentally and the man thought to be her father fled to the Ivory Coast. But, the family of Deborah’s father said that they wanted her and we have cared for her for 14 months.
This past week, Deborah’s aunt came and stayed in Deborah’s room. caring for her, feeding her and bathing her. Within 2 days, Deborah would not leave her aunt’s side and it was clear that Deborah would be loved and cared for. It is always bitter-sweet to say ‘good-by’ to one of our children but knowing that Deborah will be in a loving family makes it a little easier to let her go.

New baby – Nafisatou
Nafisatou is 3 weeks old and she came to live at the orphanage this week. Nafisiatou was born at home but 10 days after her birth, her mother died. She did not see a doctor so it is assumed that she died from complications of the birth.
Nafisatou will stay with us for 12 months giving her father and the family time to stabilize and then she will integrate back into her family.

We have a New Car!
Yes! We do have a new car but it is not yet completely in our hands. Liz and I are here in Ouaga today to sign more papers and we were hoping to drive the car back to Yako. But, the papers are not yet ready and it is not wise to take the car on the road until all of the papers are in order. We are now hoping that when we return here next week to celebrate Christmas with some friends, the car will be ready.

Thank you Jesus for this wonderful gift!

Love and blessings to you in this most Holy Season!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Friday, November 28, 2008

Dear Family and Friends, 27 November, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that all of your celebrations were filled with thanksgiving for all that the Lord is doing for you and with the joy of being with family and friends. Liz and I celebrated yesterday in Ouaga with several missionary friends and a few Burkinabe friends. We all ate too much! But, the food was great and it was fun.

The 2008-2009 school year is now in session. The children are working hard and our teachers are very motivated to help each child succeed. Here is a picture of our first grade class and their beautiful school uniforms. All over town we see children in pink check shirts and we know that these are our primary school children.

The sponsorship program continues to be a tremendous blessing to the children and their families. The last distribution for this year will be held the 18th, 19th, and 20th of December. Each child will receive some grain and special condiments for their holiday meal. And, each child will be measured for a new outfit.

On December 23rd all of the sponsored children will be coming to the orphanage compound for a Christmas party. We are going to start the day with a soccer match and then play various games and relay races with them. After lunch, there will be some quiet time where several of our ‘church groups’ of sponsored children will present special songs and/or skits that they have been preparing. The Christmas story will also be presented to the children with puppets and with live actors.

The children in the orphanage continue to prosper and we are thankful for this. Outside of small colds and runny noses, all of the children are well. Our clinic is operational for all of the children in the orphanage, our school, and the sponsorship program. Our nurses are well trained and it is rare now that any of our children must be hospitalized. Sometimes the care-takers of a sponsored child wait too long to bring a child to us but even this is changing and our nurses are able to treat the children earlier and have quicker and more efficient results.

Two of our orphanage baby care-takers attended a 2-day training session in Yako this past month. The training was offered by a French association that is working in association with a national association of orphanages in Burkina. The training was excellent and Laurentine and Nongewendi returned and gave the training to the rest of our ladies. This picture is of one of our nurses, Beatrice, and Deborah.

Lots of water!
We have wonderful news to report concerning our well! To give you a quick refresher, we had tried drilling twice this past year and the equipment that was being used was not powerful enough to go deep enough to get good water. They found water but it was not clean water.

In 2004, we had made a request for help to a Burkinabe Christian association called O.D.E. who funds water projects but we never heard a response from them. But, in October, they called saying that if we still needed a well, they had found the funds to provide this for us. What a day of rejoicing that was!

I went twice and talked with O.D.E. to explain the problem that the other association had in drilling our well. They sent a technician to Yako and his research verified that there was lots of water under our property but that it was very deep. But, O.D.E’s equipment was powerful enough to drill even to 120 meters!

The men and the equipment arrived this past week and in just 2 days, they had drilled to a depth of 78 meters and found a huge supply of water. We are truly thankful to the Lord for this gift of water. The men will be returning next week to install a hand pump which we will use for a while. Sometime later we will install a water tower and pipes that will bring water to each corner of our courtyard.

A New Vehicle?
We have looked at several used vehicles and are hoping to make a decision on one real soon. The latest one that we are praying about is a 2006 Mitsubishi 4 X 4 that has been owned by a Chinese diplomat of the Chinese Embassy. I have asked 2 mechanics in Ouaga to look at the car and also 2 friends and after everyone has given their evaluation, we will make a decision on the car.

Adoption News—
We have received notes and pictures from France, Italy, and the US and all of our adopted children are doing very well. Just this past week we received news from Mathieu and Mariam who are living in France and here is a picture of Mariam.

We are now preparing Ibrahim and Rochelle for adoption. Little Rochelle, 8 months old, will be going to Italy and Ibrahim, 2 ½ years, will be going to Spain.

This is Lisa who lives with her adoptive family in France.

Liz Richert—
Last but not least I would like to introduce Liz Richert to you. Liz is from Michigan and she has come to work with us for one year. Liz is a short-term missionary through Serving In Missions (SIM). She has finished her university studies in Social Work and is giving a year of her life to serve the Lord in Burkina before making a commitment to work and other life responsibilities.

It is great to have Liz with us. She is working in several areas: caring for our babies, tutoring our older children in English, teaching English to our 5th and 6th graders, and assisting in home visits for our sponsored children. Because of her major in Social Work, she is also closely following the adoption cases of Rochelle and Ibrahim.
Welcome to Yako, Liz!

Love and blessings to you!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An Angel Paid My School Fees!

Dear Family and Friends, 30 October, 2008
Finally! Everyone is enrolled in school, school uniforms are all made, school supplies have been bought and we can all step back and take a big sigh of relief.
The director of our school and our teachers picked out fabric for uniforms at our primary school this year. The children are thrilled and this past week, they started wearing their new uniforms. From the youngest to the oldest, everyone was wearing big smiles.
Through a very generous contribution from a friend, we were able to send an additional 23 children to school this year. Some of these children and their parents had come to our gate earlier asking for help and we had to send them away because our school funds were finished. Some of these children were on Social Action’s list of most needy cases but Social Action also had no funds left for school fees.
But, one very special boy named Florent went home and told his mother that an angel had visited his school and had paid his school fees! Florent lives in a village about 5 kilometers from Yako. His father has died and he is the youngest of 5 children. Florent is so determined to go to school that he walks to school barefoot each morning. Because his home is so far away from school, he does not go home for lunch but stays at school without eating, waiting for classes to resume for the afternoon session from 3 to 5:30.
Last year, Florent’s mother did all that she could but was only able to pay for about half of Florent’s school fees. The director of the school should have sent Florent away but because Florent is so diligent in school, the director allowed him to finish the school year. This year, the director should not have allowed Florent to start school because of his unpaid debt, yet out of the kindness of his heart, he allowed Florent to enter the 3rd grade.
Our Social Worker, Adiara, was at Florent’s school paying the school fees of another child that we knew was in need. While there, the director told her about Florent’s difficult home situation and his desire to study. After paying all of the school fees, Adiara had just a small amount of money left. And, after she calculated it, she found that she had just enough to pay Florent’s debt from last year and to pay for this year’s school fees.
Two days later, Florent and his mother came by the orphanage to thank us for paying his school fees. I noticed that Florent’s mother was wearing a small cross on a chain so I asked her if she was a Christian. She said that she was and that they walked the 5 kilometers each Sunday to attend the Catholic church here in Yako. The mother then continued to tell us that Florent had come home from school saying that an angel had stopped at his school that day and paid his school fees.
Florent is small for his age and Adiara told me that he was wearing the same ragged shirt and torn pants that he had been wearing 2 days before at school. He was also barefoot. So, we dug into some clothes that we had in storage and found a pair of shoes, 3 shirts and 3 pair of shorts that fit Florent perfectly.
We are now looking for a mother living close to Florent’s school who would be willing for Florent to eat lunch with her children each day and then return for the afternoon session. We have not found this woman yet but if you consider that the Lord sent an angel to pay this little boy’s school fees, He certainly has already prepared the heart of some mother to give little Florent his lunch.
Please continue to pray for Herman and a place for him in the blind school. We have run into a snag that is discouraging but not too difficult for our loving Jesus to solve.
Herman has a place in the first grade class but the school has not been able to find a foster family near the school to care for Herman throughout the year. Tomorrow I will be calling the woman responsible for finding foster homes for children like Herman to see if she has found a family for him. If she has not, Herman will have to wait until next year to start school. If she has, we will quickly get Herman ready and settled in Ouaga for classes to start on Monday, November 3rd.
Thank you so much for your prayers and for your generous tangible support. Our children are thriving! And, Jesus is King!
Love and blessings to you!
Ruth. . . . Mom. . . . Grandma

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal for a Deep Well--

A forage is a deep, drilled well. Last year an association called Friends in Action drilled in 2 different locations in our courtyard trying to get clean, pure water for the orphanage and school. In both of these drillings, they found water but it was very dirty water, full of sand and silt. We were discouraged. Friends in Action were discouraged.
This is a picture of the first of our drilling efforts last year.

There is water on our property but it is deep. The equipment that FIA has only has the capability of drilling 60 to 70 meters and the water is resting at 80 to 90 meters.

This past week I received a call from an organization called ODE here in Burkina. They are a Christian relief and development association which do water projects, agricultural projects, schools, clinics, etc. We have submitted a request for a forage with them in 2004 and our request had just worked its way to the top of their request list.

I went in and talked with ODE this past week to see what kind of drilling equipment they have and whether they would be able to drill to the depth that we need to find good water. And, THEY DO have this very powerful drill! We talked about the composition of the land here in Yako and they said that they have drilled several wells in our region and that they are aware of the problems that we have recently encountered.

ODE will be coming to Yako soon to do an initial study of our land to determine where they will drill. Then they will make a schedule of their work for the upcoming dry season and will give us a date that they will come to drill for us.

I must admit to you that I had lost hope of having a well on the property. We are connected to city water but our water bills run between $200 and $300 per month. And, that is only for drinking, bathing and washing clothes. With a well, we will be able to garden during the dry season and have plenty of water for our animals.

I am reminded and encouraged by Isaiah 35 which says that in the joy of the redeemed 'The burning sand will become a pool and the thirsty ground bubbling springs'. We live on the edge of the Sahel and we know burning sand and dry, thirsty ground, but, the Lord is going to give us streams in the desert.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Back to School - Oct. 08

7 October, 2008

Dear Friends,
Greetings from Burkina Faso!

It is ‘back to school’ time once again! This time comes every year and every year we try our best to prepare in advance but try as we may, we still end up in a crazy rush to get everything and everyone ready in time. School started on October 1st this year. At the orphanage we have 27 children in school; 1 at university, 20 in secondary school, and 6 children in primary school. In the sponsorship program there are 41 children in secondary school and 74 in primary school. In addition, through the special contributions of a few friends, we will be sending 25 more very needy children to school this year. All of these children need their school fees paid, school supplies bought, and school uniforms made.
The Sheltering Wings Primary School will hold five classes this year, first, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades. Since we only have a 3-classroom school, the fourth and sixth grade classes will be held outside under a temporary shelter. Our teachers are busily preparing their classrooms and are excited about the new school year. Many of the children in the Sheltering Wings School have failed and have been rejected from the public school system. These children have received a ‘second chance’ to continue their education at our school. We believe that every child has a right to receive an education and in providing the right environment, every child can learn.

New Orphanage Children
I would like to introduce some new children to the orphanage to you. “Back to school’ time brings one or more new children to our door needing a place while they continue their studies. And, this year is no exception.
Alexi – 11 years old, orphan of mother and father, fifth grade
Abraham – 12 years old, orphan of father, sixth grade
Barkwendi – 13 years old, orphan of father, seventh grade
Adjertou – 15 years old, orphan of mother and father, first year in technical school to learn to be a tailor
We also have also recently received 5 new babies: Esaii, newborn; Estelle, 14 months; Salif, 3 months; and twin girls, Fatimata and Mariam, 3 months old. Each of these little ones have come with their own stories of tragedy even at their young ages.
Estelle has been placed with us by Social Action. She is 14 months old and her mother is just 15 years old. In desperation, the mother is abandoning Estelle because she cannot care for her or provide for her. The mother is an orphan of both mother and father. Because of the shame of her pregnancy, she has been kicked out of the extended family courtyard and has been living on the street. Depending on the final decisions made by Social Action, we will care for Estelle and possibly place her on the list for adoption. At the same time, we are looking for a family or school who will help Estelle’s mother to stabilize and get her life back on the right track.

Here are photos of Alexi, Barkwendi, and Estelle.

Sponsorship Program
September was the quarterly food distribution for the Sponsorship Program. We are in the process of dividing the children into smaller groups which meet in 5 of our local churches. A weekly meeting is held in each church where volunteers teach the children Bible stories, sing songs with them and interact with them. With this new organization, we see the children each week and can more closely follow their progress in school, talk to them about problems at home or at school, and have a weekly opportunity for evangelism.

Many of our sponsored children live 10 or more kilometers outside of Yako so this new system brings the distribution closer to their homes. Each of our participating churches held their own distribution this month. Most of sponsored children attend primary and secondary schools near their homes. Because of this seeing that every child is enrolled in school and paying school fees is a major challenge. But, our lists are taking shape and in the next one to two weeks, all of the children’s school fees will be paid. These are photos from one of the distribution sites.

Clinic News
Our clinic is slowly taking shape and is now in use by our nurses. There were very valuable medical supplies and equipment stored in our container which have now been moved into the clinic. Things that we still lack are beds and some tables and chairs.
Because of our lack of beds and supplies we are not yet ready to hospitalize a child but we are able to treat all of our children and 2 mornings a week, the clinic is open to children in the community. If a child needs to be hospitalized we refer them to the local hospital or to Dr. Zala’s clinic in Ouayaghuia.

Herman is the little 7 year old that we found in a remote village and who is blind. We have been assured that Herman has a place in first grade this year but still there are a few obstacles to overcome. The school is searching for a family for Herman to live with during the school year and has not yet been able to find one. This family must live near the school and there must be someone to take Herman to school each morning and then return to take him home at night. School will start for Herman on November 1st. Please pray along with us that the Lord will provide the perfect family to care for Herman while he is in school. Herman is the little one sitting between his mother and his father.

Thank you so much for your consistent and loving support of our projects and our children both through your prayers and your financial support. I wake up every morning amazed at the kindness and abundant provision of our Heavenly Father and it is through faithful friends like you that the Lord meets our needs. I rejoice in Him and thank Him daily for your part in what the Lord is doing in the lives of our children here in Burkina.
Love and blessings to you!
Ruth Cox

Prayer requests:
· Please pray for the funds to build another 3 classrooms for our school.
· Please pray for the Holy Spirit to permeate the classrooms of our primary school and for children to invite Jesus into their hearts.
· Please pray for baby Estelle and for a safe environment for her mother.
· Please pray for a foster family that lives close to the school to care for Herman during the school year.
· Pray for the health and safety of our children and our workers.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

September 7, 2008

Dear Family and Friends, 7 September, 2008

Earlier this week as I passed through the baby rooms to great our daytime workers and the children I could not pass up this ‘Kodak moment’.
We are in the midst of the rainy season and the local people actually call it wintertime. It is true that when the rain comes, the temperature can drop down into the upper 60’s. For me this is comfortable weather for a t-shirt or possibly a long sleeve shirt but for our local friends this is terribly cold. This was the scene in one of our baby rooms.

Good News! Herman has a place in school!
This past May while visiting a baby in the village who has been in our Friday Milk Program, we found this little boy, Herman, who has been blind since birth. This is a photo of Herman, his parents and several of his siblings.

We received a call this week from Ouagadougou saying that Herman has been granted a place in the blind school. Really, the Lord gave us great favor on behalf of this child. There is a waiting list at the school and some children have waited 3 or 4 years to have a place there. Through a friend at Social Action in Ouaga I was introduced to the woman who is the head of the government Ministry of Handicapped Children and Adults. This woman personally knew the director of the blind school and through this relationship Herman was given a place in the first grade class.

Many of you generously responded to this need and we lack only a small amount to send Herman to school for one year. Thank you so much for your gifts. Please continue to pray for Herman, for his family who do not know the Lord, and for his adjustment to this new school.

Therese is much better
I wrote to you recently that Therese was sick and having trouble breathing. Today Therese is again her happy and gentle self. Once again, the Lord touched her and healed her of the malaria and cold that was causing her to have trouble breathing.

We are in Ouagadougou right now, Therese and I, and tomorrow we will pass by the lab and get some blood work done that the doctor prescribed for her.

Babies Come and Go--

Since last writing, 2 of our babies have integrated back into their families and we have received 2 little newborns. Salimata is now living in Ouagadougou and being cared for by an aunt and Madina is now living in Ouayaghuia and being cared for by an aunt.

We received 2 calls this past week to take little ones whose mothers are not well mentally. Wendemi is premature and only weighs about 4 pounds. His mama refused to care for him and her family felt that there was danger of her harming him. Fatimata’s mother is just 17 years old and she also does not have all of her mental faculties. After home studies to see if there is someone in the family who wants these babies, they may be available for adoption.

This is Fatimata. This is Wendemi.

Love and blessings to you!

Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Friday, August 29, 2008

August News, 2008

Dear Family and Friends, 30 August, 2008
This is the rainy season and we are thankful that the Lord has been sending abundant rains this year. Here is a picture of Ange, Steven, Abraham, and Michel standing before a small field of millet planted in our courtyard.
Our children planted every square inch of our courtyard with millet, corn, and okra. Plus, they planted about an acre of millet and beans in a field about 4 kilometers from the orphanage. I’m proud of the way that our children have worked this summer both in our fields and in their studies. They have been studying hard and they have also worked in Pastor Salou’s fields and the fields of several of our workers.

School News
We have already started planning for the 2008-2009 school year. We will have 5 classes in our school this year and already each class is full. Our primary school children will wear uniforms this year so parents have already started having these made for their children. We have also started making uniforms for all of the orphanage children.
In total, with our primary school, the orphanage children and the sponsored children, Sheltering Wings will be sending 261 children to school this year.
The unrest at the university in Ouagadougou has diminished a bit in that the school will be opened again on September 1st. The students will be given one week in class for review and then there will be one week of final exams. After the exams the school will be closed until classes start again on January 5th. Etienne has continued to study all summer and feels that he is as prepared as possible to take exams. Due to the unrest, the university students missed 50% of their classes this year. Only time will tell how many students will pass and how many will have to re-do their whole year of study.

Josué, placed 4th in all of Yako
Josué is 12 years old. His mother and father have both died. Josué and his sister, Irene, both live in the orphanage.
Josué completed sixth grade this year in our primary school and was second in his class. When the standardized test was given to all the sixth graders of Yako, Josué placed 4th among all of the students in our region. Because the classrooms are so overcrowded here, this year even if a student passes this test, there will be an entrance exam given for 7th graders and only a certain percentage of them will have a place in school. Josué does not have to take this test but is already guaranteed a place in 7th grade this year.
We are very proud of Josué and the accomplishment that his hard work has brought to him.

Therese is sick.
Therese is our little 8 year old who is suffering from an enlarged heart. We took her to see the heart specialist yesterday because she is again having trouble breathing. The breathing problems this time were a result of malaria and a cold which she is recovering from. The doctor changed some of her heart medicine and with rest and a complete recovery from the malaria, her breathing should improve.
Please pray for Therese. Without saying so in so many words, the doctor told us that there is really nothing that he can do for her. But, Jesus is the great physician who can give Therese a new heart.

Prayer Requests
Ø Please pray for the funds to purchase a new vehicle. Our truck has faithfully served us for 5 years but it has entered a ‘fix or repair daily’ phase and is becoming less and less roadworthy. We will keep the truck for hauling needs in and around Yako but are in need of another vehicle for travel outside of Yako.
Ø Pray for the health and safety of our children and our workers. This is the malaria season and although we use insecticide and mosquito nets, we have 3 or 4 children and workers sick with malaria at any given time.
Ø Please pray with us for funds to equip a small lab in our clinic. We have a professional microscope which has given us a good start but we are in need of other lab equipment.
Ø Please pray for Matthew and for Ascencion, two of our boys who still need to surrender their hearts to Jesus.
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

So much to report-- July, 2008

Dear Family and Friends, 30 July 2008

School News—
The end of the 2007-2008 school year brought smiles and celebration to the Sheltering Wings Primary School. Of the 87 children enrolled in our school all of the children except 3 passed to the next class. All of our sixth graders passed and 18 out of the 19 students in the class passed the standardized test which allows them to continue to the 7th grade.

As a reward for their hard work, we took our sixth graders on a field trip to the zoo about 20 kilometers outside of Ouagadougou. Many of our children had never even been to Ouaga and none of them had ever been to the zoo. The children saw elephants, hippos, monkeys, baboons, tigers, ostriches, and many other animals. After visiting the zoo, they feasted on rice and sauce and a bottle of Fanta Orange soft drink. At the end of the day everyone was happy and content.

A hippo at the zoo. Lunch in Ouagadougou
Enrollment for the 2008-2009 scholastic year has already started and two of our five classes are already full. With the wonderful achievements of our teachers and students last year, the word is out and parents are coming to enroll their children in our school.

We are thankful to the Lord for what he has done for us this year. Everyone worked hard and the Lord blessed us with success.

Orphanage notes—
One thing that is difficult to deal with but is part of running an orphanage is change. We have had several children integrate back into their families and we have also received several new children.
Ousmane, Sarata, Joseph, and Harouna have all integrated back into their families. Each of these children’s mothers died shortly after they were born and we took them and cared for them until they were no longer needing formula, were eating table food and were walking.
Baby Daniel came to us as a tiny newborn weighing just 3 ½ pounds. Daniel’s mother was not well mentally and it is not known who his father is and because of this, Social Action took Daniel immediately after birth and brought him to us. Daniel was doing well and gaining weight but he became sick with malaria and died just this past week. A side effect of malaria is that it kills red blood cells and because Daniel was so small, his little body was not able to replenish his red blood cells fast enough and he died of anemia.
We received a pair of twin girls from the region of Ouayaghuia and although they also are very small they are slowly gaining weight. Their mother died shortly after their birth and there is only an elderly grandmother to care for them in the village. We will care for Fatimata and Mariam until they are 12 months of age and then their grandmother will be able to care for them.

Sponsorship News—
June 28th was the quarterly distribution for the sponsorship program and it was a day of joy. Everyone arrived early and each family was given a sac of millet and several other food items.
Already we are preparing lists of school age children so that all who are eligible can be enrolled in school and their school fees paid.
We have a team visiting us from Columbia, MO right now and one of the team members brought a gift for the child that her family sponsors.

Mary Moe, Rodgigue, Martinier receiving his gift, and his mother.

Widow’s Basket—
This program is a great blessing both to us who administer it and to the widows themselves. Once each month we go to the home of each widow taking her a small gift of food and visiting for a short time with her. We pray with each one of them before leaving and we are always blessed by the smiles on their faces.

The Columbia team asked if there were any small repairs that they could do for any of the widows and this is a picture of a new door for the house of this widow to protect her from theft and also from the cold evening temperatures.

Anna, Dan, Valentin, Widow, Mary, Aaron, family member

Short-Term Team visit—
I’ve already mentioned the team from Columbia and some of their ministry but also wanted to include a few more pictures of them as they ministered to all they came in contact with. They were an energetic group who came with hearts to help and to serve. Among other things. . . they ministered to the orphanage by taking care of babies and painting 3 of the rooms of our older children, they held a day of child evangelism where over 200 children sang and danced and heard about Jesus as well as received suckers and mangoes, and they ministered to the sick at the hospital praying for children very sick with malaria and one little girl recovering from a snake bite.

If you ever feel the Lord tugging at your heart concerning a trip to Burkina, please let us know. We welcome visitors. This team was a tremendous blessing to us and we hope and pray that we also were a blessing to them.

Mary caring for our babies. Mary and Jenni painting the girls’ room.

Mary, Dan and Evance praying at the hospital. Child evangelism in a village.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Such an eventful week!

Dear Family and Friends,
The clinic is finished! This is the latest and greatest photo. This past week we held a final walkthrough of the building and signed papers agreeing that the work was finished. We have a beautiful new building and two young nurses who are excited and ready to move into this new phase of their commitment to our children.

This next week we will start moving in furniture and supplies and very shortly our nurses will be moved out of their small room in the orphanage dormitory and into the clinic.

This is Ferdinand and his new parents, Richard and Rebecca. Ferdinand came to the orphanage almost 3 years ago. He was abandoned by his mother when he was about 18 months old and his father is not known.

Ferdinand's mother left him with the mother of one of her friends saying that she would be back later to pick him up. . . and she just never came back.

Richard and Rebecca have been married for 8 years with no natural children and from the very first time that they met Ferdinand, they asked to take him as their own.

This is one of my favorite photos of Ferdinand not because he is
crying but because it reveals his sweet and gentle spirit. Ferdinand is no longer crying. Jesus has given him a home!

Blessings to you!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Clinic News, School News, and Other News

Dear Family and Friends, 30 June 2008

Construction Update
The work on the clinic is finished! Except for very minor glitches the work was done quickly and efficiently. We give God thanks and praise for what He has done for us.

The last time that I wrote I promised a new picture. . . and I am sorry to say that as I write today, my camera is in Yako and I am in Ouagadougou. Sigh! But, I will be back here in Ouaga in a week or so and will show you the finished product.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, we will have the final walkthrough of the building with the contractor, head mason, and quality control person and if nothing is found that still needs attention, we will pay the remaining payment of 20%. There is 10% of the total which is held for one year as a guarantee of the work and this payment will be made in June, 2009.

Later this week, we will begin moving furniture and supplies into the clinic that were shipped in the container that we received in 2006. This will be exciting work and with many hands the work will be easy.

School News
The final grades are still not released for the primary school children and about half of our secondary school children! We do have through verbal information that all of our children in our primary school passed this year. Considering that the statistics in the public schools are that up to 50% of the children do not pass, the Lord gave us a wonderfully successful school year.

This was the first year for our school to have 6th graders taking the test called the CEP. This is a standardized test with a pass/fail result which allows the student to continue to 7th grade or requires him to re-do 6th grade. In Yako this year, only 30% of the students passed the CEP. But, 27 out of our 28 6th graders passed! The girl who didn’t pass is an older student but she has done well this year in school. She did well on 2 trial tests which were given but unfortunately, did not pass the ‘real’ test. We will encourage her to stay in school though and to try again next year.

We are thankful to the Lord for the results of this school year. The teachers worked hard. The students worked hard. And, the Lord blessed them all with success!

We had 3 orphanage children who took another standardized test, the BEPC. This exam is given after 10th grade and it also determines whether a student can continue to 11th grade or must re-do 10th. Two of our children, Evance and Lazarre, passed, but Augustin did not pass. Augustin is discouraged but says that he will continue to work hard and try again next year.

At the university level in Ouaga, there has been much unrest this year. Etienne has been enrolled in classes this year in the branch of sociology. Many of the university students have been striking/rioting/demonstrating for the past several weeks over the huge classes of students, inadequate resources and facilities, and the low standard of education that they receive. Two weeks ago the police used gunfire and tear gas to dispel the unrest and 3 students and one police officer were wounded. Several students passed out from the tear gas and one boy fell from a second story balcony.

Yesterday, because of the strikes, the university suspended classes until September 15th and all of the students were sent home. There is rumor that this year will be declared ‘année blanche’ which means that there will be no credit given for this year of study to any of the students. Etienne’s studies were not scheduled to finish until August 15th. Please pray with us that the university leaders will be willing to listen to the students and take positive steps towards improving the living conditions of the students and their standard of education.

The Canadians are Coming!
I introduced Miriah, Nicole, and Sabrina to you the last time that I wrote and truly these girls were wonderful blessings to our children. Miriah was here for 2 months and Nicole and Sabrina were here for one month. Each day the girls worked from morning to night, caring for and loving on our babies and talking and playing with our older children.

The talent show that they organized was a huge success. All of our children from 7 year old Ferdinand and Therese up to 20 year old Emanuel participated and we had an evening to remember. The children are now asking whether we could do this at least one time each month.

The ‘Rainy Season’ has started!
Here is Burkina, we have only 2 seasons, the rainy season and the dry season. During the dry season it is really dry with no rain from October to May. During the rainy season it is really wet and this is when our local friends plant and grow what their families will need to eat for the entire year.

The rainy season has started late this year but it has started and we are thankful for this. Our local friends start looking for and praying for rain towards mid-May but this year our first really good rain was not until June 23rd. Many people, planted early in faith, hoping for the rain, and had to re-plant. But still, everyone is relieved to have received 3 wonderful rains this past week.

Under the guidance of Valentin, the orphanage has secured a field a few kilometers from Yako. Our children have planted a field of millet and beans (a small white bean similar to a black-eyed pea). They have planted millet in the corners of our courtyard and in a few weeks, they will plant a field of peanuts. Because of the drought last year and the terribly high prices this year, our local friends are suffering to provide even the bare necessities for their families. Because a bag of rice is now $45, we have temporarily removed rice from the children’s diet. Please pray with us that the Lord will continue to bless us with adequate rains and will give us an abundant harvest this year.

Summary of Prayer and Praise:
We thank God for the completion of the construction of the clinic. Please pray for our nurses as they begin this next phase in the development of our small ‘community clinic’ project.

We thank God for the successful school year for our primary school and secondary school students. Please pray for patience for the university students and wisdom and mercy for the leaders as they seek a solution to the unrest at the university.

We thank God for the rain. Even as I am writing here in Ouaga this morning, there is a steady rain that has been falling for over 2 hours. Please pray that the rains continue to fall over Yako both in the physical sense and the spiritual.

Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 18, 2008

Greetings to Everyone!

I must take a few minutes to write. There is so very much to tell you and so little time. That is life, huh? Generally, the pace of life is much slower here in Burkina than it is in the States but for the past few weeks it seems that life has been on over-drive speed here.

Clinic News--

The clinic is nearly finished. I'm sorry that I do not have a new photo for you but I promise that in my next writing there will be a photo and probably the 'finished version' of the clinic. The men are doing finish work, painting inside and out, installing light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, etc. By the contract, they must be finished by June 25th or else pay a penalty so I feel confident that the work will be finished soon.

The plans for the clinic are that it will serve first the children in our courtyard. These are the 45 children in the orphanage and the 90 children in our school. After our nurses have these routines down, we plan to open the clinic one or more mornings a week to serve the orphans in the area. Our nurses are young and inexperienced but we will be working hand-in-hand with a local doctor in Yako and also Dr. Zala who is located 70 km away in Ouyaghuia.

Truck Update--

Once again the truck broke down this past week. This time it is the alternator. We had the alternator 'repaired' a few weeks ago but it seems that it was just a temporary fix and it died completely last Sunday.

Today I am back in Ouaga and the truck is in the hands of my faithful mechanic, Jean. Jean just called me with the news that a used replacement part would cost $200 and a new part would be $500. Ouch! Needless to say, I felt obligated to tell him to go with the used part. He said that there is a limited waranty on the part and that if we continue to have problems we can return it.

Please pray with us concerning the purchase of a new vehicle. Our truck will continue to be very usefull for hauling sand, rock, wood, and grain in and around Yako but we are very much in need of a more reliable vehicle for trips outside of Yako.

Orphanage News--

Our children are all relatively well and we are thankful for this. We received 3 little newborns in the span of 10 days about 2 1/2 months ago. I am happy to report that each of these babies are now thriving and are doing great.

This past week, we received twin girls whose mother died about a month ago. The twins were being cared for by an elderly grandmother and they are very sick. The twins are named Fatimata and Mariam and they are much smaller than our other 3 babies of about the same age. Please pray that Fatimata and Mariam will quickly adapt and adjust to our way of caring for them and that they will start gaining weight.

School News--

All of our primary school children passed this year!!! This may not seem like a great accomplishment to you but here often 40% or more of the children do not pass from year to year. The public schools are terribly overcrowded with 100+ children in each class and only one teacher. They also do not have adequate books or resourse materials. We have less than 30 children in each class and each child has his own desk, his own books, pens, notebooks, etc.

We are thankful for the material supplies that we are able to give to our children but we are also thankful to the Lord for the opportunity we have to sew Godly principals into their hearts and their lives. We are also thankful the He helped our children to study hard and to finish their studies.

We had 24 sixth graders take the standardized test given by the government this year. This was our first year to have 6th graders and of course, the first year to take this exam. In pre-tests that were given, our children scored very well. But, the grades from the exam have not been released yet so we are waiting to hear that everyone passed. This exam is a pass/fail exam which allows the child to continue to 7th grade or to re-do 6th grade no matter whether he passed his 6th grade work or not.

The orphanage children also did very well this year in their studies. All of the final grades have not been released yet but several reports have been released and these children all passed. We had 3 boys who took a standardized test given after 9th grade and 2 of the 3 passed on the first try. The 3rd boy qualified for a second try at the exam and we do not yet know whether he passed or not.

The orphanage children will again stay at the orphanage this summer to study and to work our field of millet and beans. After the planting is completed they will be allowed to go and visit their famlies for a couple of weeks but then they will return and stay focused on their studies. We did this last year as a trial and feel that the extra work and effort paid off for our students this year. The children are all in agreement to keep working on their French and their math skills.

Well, I must close for now and publish this. I am attaching a photo that I just received from Assya's mother in Italy. Assya has grown taller and has gained weight since moving to Italy with her parents last September. She is adored by her 2 older brothers and will be starting pre-school this Fall. This is a picture of Assya and her mother at the beach.

Love and blessings to you!

Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Monday, June 09, 2008

The good news and the bad news--

Dear Family and Friends, 8 June 2008

Construction Update
The work on the clinic continues to move forward at a very acceptable pace. The men worked both Saturday and Sunday this week-end making up for time lost while our contractor was trying to negotiate a new contract. According to the contract, the work must be finished by June 20th or else a penalty will be in effect for each day that the work is not finished.

Most of the remaining work is finish work. The suspended ceiling is in place and the wiring and plumbing is in place. Interior and exterior paint still needs to be applied and the electrical and plumbing fixtures still need to be installed. Interior doors need to be finished and hung and glass needs to be put in the windows.

We are thankful to the Lord for this new building and for the hope and healing that it will bring to the children in our orphanage, our school, and the surrounding area.

School News
The final grades are still not released but I must write with some very unfortunate and sad news. One of our little second graders became sick this week and his family came to us on Thursday to say that Ibrahim was in the hospital. Ibrahim didn’t come to school on Wednesday and there is no school here on Thursday’s for the primary school children.

The nurse at the hospital placed an IV and started the treatment for malaria and then on Friday they started the treatment for meningitis. We visited Ibrahim on Friday afternoon and then again on Saturday morning and it was very clear to see that he was a very sick little boy. On Saturday afternoon, Ibrahim died.

Ibrahim was a sponsored child and we paid for all of his treatment. The nurse was doing all that was possible in this case. Ibrahim was in good general health but meningitis is a disease that can take a life very quickly if the treatment is not started early. It is very rare to see meningitis this late in the season so the family was caught very much by surprise.

Please pray for this family. Ibrahim’s mother and father have both died. He has an older brother and sister still living in the courtyard with extended family. They are a Muslim family.

The Canadians are Coming!
We have three delightful Canadian girls with us right now, Miriah, Nicole, and Sabrina. Miriah is a university student, Nicole is an Occupational Therapist, and Sabrina is in business. The girls are here for one month and they have already been a tremendous blessing. Each morning they love and care for our babies and they pass the afternoons and evenings talking with and playing games with our older children. This evening all of the older children are here watching a film and next week we are going to have a talent show. Everyone has signed up to participate and there will be prizes given for the various categories.

Well, I must close for this evening. Thank you for your faithful prayer support. Thank for your notes and words of encouragement. The Lord is hearing and answering and helping the children of Burkina through your faithfulness.

Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 27, 2008

Dear Family and Friends, 27 May, 2008

Construction Update
Thank you so much for your faithful prayers! Our contractor has agreed to continue the work as defined in our contract. After much effort in communication, he finally admitted that he had taken money that should have gone into materials for the clinic and used them to recover from a problem on another project. He went and got a short-term loan, bought the materials needed for the clinic and is now back on-track for completing the clinic as agreed in the contract. I am thankful that the Lord helped us to resolve this problem without embarrassment to the contractor while at the same time protecting our interest and integrity in the contract.

If there are no more unforeseen delays, the clinic will be completed by the 15th of June.

School Update
Our primary school children continue to study even though almost all of the secondary school children are already finished with their school year. This week is the time of final exams for the primary school children so they are still working very hard.

Please pray for the sixth graders who will be taking the standardized CEP test in June. This is a pass/fail test which will allow them to continue to 7th grade or require them to do 6th grade again. Also, please pray for our 10th graders who are also taking a standardized test, the BEPC in June.

Although school is finished for most of our secondary school children, their final grades will not be available until sometime in July. Most of our children feel that they passed this year and we are thankful for this, but we will wait for the actual report cards before announcing the success of this school year.

A Chance for Herman to go to school?
Herman is a little 7 year old boy who has been blind from birth. We found Herman in a small isolated village about 25 kilometers from Yako while doing a home visit of one of our babies in the Friday Milk Program. (The baby, Diane, is doing very well.)

Herman is the 4th child of his mother and of the 4 children, 3 of them have very serious handicaps. The first born child, age 16, is also blind from birth and the 3rd child, an 8 year old, is not well mentally.

In talking with some friends and with Social Action we learned of a school for the blind in Ouagadougou. We went and visited the school a couple of weeks ago and then returned there this past week with Herman and a dossier requesting a place for him in the first grade in the 2008-2009 school year. There is a waiting list though because they only accept 10 children in each class.

This picture of Herman is not real clear so I will try to get a better one for you real soon.

Please pray that the Lord will give Herman a place in school this year. The waiting period can be up to 3 years and then Herman will be 10 years old before starting school.

Would you please consider helping us with the expenses of sending Herman to school? He will be placed in a family who live near the school and they will take him to school each day and pick him up. The fees for the school and for the receiving family are about $600 per year. We do not have this amount in the orphanage budget right now but we are trusting that if the Lord gives Herman a place in school then He will also provide the funds that are needed.

I must close for now but I will write again the next time that I am in Ouagadougou.

Love and blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma

Monday, May 12, 2008

12 May, 2008

Dear Family and Friends, 12 May, 2008

Construction Update
The work on the clinic continues but not without some interesting twists. I think that you can clearly see the progress that the men are making.

The twists came in three different phases this past week, one when the contractor asked to re-do the estimates for the work because the prices of materials have gone up, and the second when he wanted to stop the work until the prices go down. On the surface one could almost laugh at these requests but they were very real and very serious.

The third twist came when the contractor wanted to stop the work because there is no cement available in Yako. He can get it in Ouagadougou, the capital, but the price is higher plus he would need to pay transportation costs to bring it to Yako.

After much negotiating and with the help of our technical advisor on the building, the contractor did agree to continue the work as agreed in our contract.

If the men continue to work at the pace that they have been working at, our clinic will be finished towards the first of June. Please pray that our contractor will remain steady and finish the work as agreed in the contract. The contract is a legal and binding contract but because of the weaknesses in the legal system here, taking the contractor to court would only be a last, last option.

Our orphanage nurses at work.

Another Adoption!!
One of our little ones, Ferdinand, has been approved for adoption and a lovely Burkinabé couple who live in Ouaga have been approved to adopt him. Ferdinand was abandoned by his mother when he was about 2 years old and she has not been seen or heard from since. The woman caring for Ferdinand often sent him into the market area to beg for food and Social Action picked him up and brought him to us because he was sleeping at the bus station.

Ferdinand is in the first grade this year at our primary school and as soon as school is out for the year, he will move into the home of his new parents.

The Truck
Again this week we had repair issues with the truck. A small oil leak turned into a problem with the brakes and then a problem with the alternator. For sure, I am not a mechanic, but when these things happen I feel very insecure regarding the ability of my local mechanic. :o)

After going back to the mechanic 6 times, and after sending him to Ouaga to get a part, the truck was running again and this morning I called my mechanic here in Ouaga to come and check out everything in the motor. He talked with the mechanic in Yako and after making another minor change said that the truck was again in good running order.

Please pray with us for a new vehicle. The truck can continue to serve us well for general hauling in and around Yako but more and more we are feeling the need for a more dependable vehicle for travel between Yako and Ouaga and Yako and Ouayaghuia.

School Updates
The school year is winding down here. Many of our secondary students have already finished their final exams and next week will be the exams for the last school. Everyone is still anxiously awaiting their final scores.

The final exams for our primary school will also be this next week. After the grades are all totaled and averaged, school will be over for all except the sixth graders who will continue to study and to prepare for the CEP. The schools have arranged 2 pre-tests for the sixth graders to help them prepare for the exam and in the second round of these tests, our school ranked 3rd in the community in the children’s scores. This is the first year for our school to have children taking this exam so we are very proud of our teachers and of our children’s work.

Little Teebnoma
Wanted to end with a ‘Teebnoma update’ and this photo of Teebnoma. Teebnoma was taken away from her mother by Social Action because the mother was trying to kill her. She came to the orphanage about 8 weeks ago, was sick and malnourished and unable to walk. Teebnoma has stolen the heart of each of our workers. She is about 18 months old and this week she started walking.

Love and blessings to you!
Ruth. . . Mom. . . Grandma